Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft


Linguistics Olympiad

General information

In 2008, ZAS initiated the participation of Germany in the International Linguistic Olympiad (IOL) and has since then (with an interruption from 2012-18) conducted the selection rounds of the German Linguistic Olympiad (DOL) as well as the training and the chaperonage of the students to the international competition - since 2021 together with the Institute for Language and Information at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. At the beginning of 2022, the Förderverein Deutsche Linguistik-Olympiade e.V. was founded for this purpose.

The International Linguistic Olympiad is one of the more recent competitions among other better known championships such as the Mathematics or Chemistry Olympiad.

The Linguistics Olympiad tests the participants feeling for language, cultural imagination and logical-analytical skills, enabling the best results to not only be achieved by linguistically gifted students, but also generally and multiply gifted students.

The olympic competitions, which last less than a week, take place annually in different countries. They consist of individual competitions (on the day after arrival) in which five tasks have to be solved within six hours. On the following day, you are introduced to the host country and its people as well as the opposing teams. On the fourth day is reserved for the team task, where four students from one country (= one team) work together on a problem for four hours. The tasks usually consist of identifying structures (grammar) or the meaning of words/word groups from unknown languages. At times, solving the problems feels like deciphering hieroglyphics. On the last day, the award ceremony takes place followed by a party.

Germany participated in the IOL from 2008-2012 and again from 2018. In 2020, the International Linguistics Olympiad did not take place due to the Covid pandemic.

Here you can try the tasks of the 1st round from 2020.